This photo of Dan Valliquette and Hesquiaht First Nation member Kevin Charleson assessing stream flows on Ahtaapq Creek to test whether a hydropower project could be feasible was taking back in 2018. Last week, the Ah’ta’apq Creek Hydropower Project received $4.1 million of funding from the provincial government and shovels are expected to hit the ground this summer. (Photo courtesy of Barkley Project Group)

Province backs Hesquiaht First Nation hydro project with $4.1M

Ah’ta’apq Creek Hydropower Project would decrease First Nation’s dependence on diesel.

The Hesquiaht First Nation is celebrating a significant boost in its pursuit of cleaner energy.

The provincial government recently announced $4.1 million in funding for the Nation’s Ah’ta’apq Creek Hydropower Project.

“Remote Indigenous communities are moving forward with greener alternatives, such as replacing dirty diesel power with clean, renewable sources for electricity,” said Mid Island- Pacific MLA and Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Scott Fraser through the announcement. “Hesquiaht First Nation’s participation in this program is a strong example, bringing sustainable energy practices to Clayoquot Sound and contributing to a cleaner, healthier province for everyone.”

The 350 kilowatt hydropower project is located near Hot Springs Cove and aims to help the Hesquiaht First Nation’s remote Clayoquot Sound community transition from diesel.

Once completed, it is expected to reduce the community’s diesel consumption by 80 per cent, according to the announcement.

“The Hesquiaht First Nation would like to thank all funders for the opportunity to build a Hesquiaht First Nation micro-dam for our community. This has been a long road travelled to get off the diesel generator that has been the only power source. It would also be nice to not have the pollution and noise in the community,” said Hesquiaht Tribal Administrator Norma Bird. “Hesquiaht would like to thank past and present Chief and Council, Band Administrator, governments, organizations and community for supporting this renewable source of power. Hesquiaht will continue to pursue clean renewable sources of energy for its community.”

The $4.1 million of funding came from the provincial government’s Renewable Energy for Remote Communities program, which has earmarked $16.5 million towards four projects so far to help remote communities shift to renewable energy sources.

“Together with Hesquiaht First Nation, our government is working to advance reconciliation and transition to a cleaner, better future for Indigenous peoples living in remote communities across the province,” said Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman. “Through CleanBC, we’re helping build local clean energy projects that will reduce reliance on fossil fuels and support cleaner air and a better environment for future generations.”

The Renewable Energy for Remote Communities program is administered by Coast Funds and the Fraser Basin Council and is designed to supplement other initiatives underway to axe fossil fuel dependency and increase energy efficiency.

“It’s encouraging to see clean-energy projects introduced at a small scale in remote parts of B.C., and exciting to be part of this project,” said Fraser Basin Council CEO David Marshall. “Hesquiaht First Nation and the provincial government are showing that micro-hydro power can reduce emissions and be a viable path to energy self sufficiency and reliability for a small community.”

Through its CleanBC plan, the province hopes to reduce diesel consumption in remote communities by 80 per cent by 2030.

“Clean, reliable and affordable hydroelectricity is B.C.’s number one strength in the fight against climate change,” said Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Bruce Ralston.

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READ MORE: Diesel-dependent Hesquiaht First Nation receives $500,000 for hydropower project at Hot Springs Cove

READ MORE: Hydro power project proposed at Hot Springs Cove

READ MORE: First Nations ecosystem service fee in the works for Tofino

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